Mucosal reactive oxygen species decrease virulence by disrupting Campylobacter jejuni phosphotyrosine signaling
Reactive oxygen species (ROS) play key roles in mucosal defense, yet how they are induced and the consequences for pathogens are unclear. We report that ROS generated by epithelial NADPH oxidases (Nox1/Duox2) during Campylobacter jejuni infection impair bacterial capsule formation and virulence by altering bacterial signal transduction. Upon C. jejuni invasion, ROS released from the intestinal mucosa inhibit the bacterial phosphotyrosine network that is regulated by the outer membrane tyrosine kinase Cjtk (Cj1170/OMP50). ROS-mediated Cjtk inactivation results in an overall decrease in the phosphorylation of C. jejuni outer membrane / periplasmic proteins including UDP-GlcNAc/Glc 4-epimerase (Gne), an enzyme required for N-glycosylation and capsule formation. Cjtk positively regulates Gne by phosphorylating an active site tyrosine, while loss of Cjtk or ROS treatment inhibits Gne activity, causing altered polysaccharide synthesis. Thus, epithelial NADPH oxidases are an early antibacterial defense system in the intestinal mucosa that modifies virulence by disrupting bacterial signaling.